Blockbuster Franchises Help November 2012 Destroy Record
by Ray Subers
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
December 4, 2012
After a few relatively quiet months at the domestic box office, moviegoers crowded in to theaters over the past month for blockbusters Breaking Dawn Part 2, Skyfall and Wreck-It Ralph. As a result, November 2012 business was up a whopping 26 percent year-over-year to $1.08 billion, and also topped November 2009's $995 million record. Through the end of the month, year-to-date box office was at $9.86 billion, and 2012 is now guaranteed to set a new yearly box office record. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 led all releases with $242.7 million through 15 days in theaters; a Twilight movie has now topped the November chart for three out of the past four years. The fifth and final chapter in the popular fantasy series is on pace to earn more than its immediate predecessor ($281.3 million), though it will likely fall a bit short of Eclipse's $300.5 million franchise record.
In second place, Skyfall earned an incredible $233.9 million in 22 days. It only took the movie 12 days to become the highest-grossing James Bond movie ever, and it should ultimately close with over $280 million at the domestic box office. Wreck-It Ralph opened on the first weekend of November and finished the month with $152.9 million. Late in the month it passed Megamind's $148.4 million total, and while it won't match Tangled's $200.8 million, it's still a huge financial success for Disney Animation Studios.
Denzel Washington/Robert Zemeckis drama Flight grossed $78.3 million in November, which is a very good tally for an R-rated addiction movie. The fact that it's going to ultimately close near $100 million further reinforces Washington's star status, though one shouldn't write off a savvy marketing effort from Paramount either. Lincoln rounded out the Top Five with $74.2 million, or more than twice what Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter made in its entire run. Seriously, though, Steven Spielberg's biopic focusing on the 16th president's quest to abolish slavery is outperforming even the most optimistic pre-release forecasts, and it will have no problem passing $100 million by mid-December. Life of Pi also performed decently in November: Ang Lee's adaptation of the best-selling novel earned $39.7 million through its first 10 days, which is more than double what Hugo had earned through the same point.
The biggest dud of the month was Rise of the Guardians, which only earned $38.4 million through 10 days, which is less than nearly all DreamWorks Animation movies earn in their opening weekend. With its Christmas tie-in it will hold better than equivalent animated movies through the holiday season, though it's still going to have a tough time hitting $100 million (stories are already floating around about all the money DreamWorks is set to lose on the project). Red Dawn's $26.8 million 10-day tally isn't very good either, though something is better than nothing for a movie that was sitting on the shelf for years. RZA's passion project The Man with the Iron Fists fared worse with just $15.3 million since opening at the beginning of the month. Silver Linings Playbook was originally set to open nationwide on Nov. 21, but The Weinstein Company made a last-minute decision to platform it beginning on Nov. 16. Still in limited release, the movie earned $8.6 million through the end of November; its box office story isn't written yet, but nothing about its performance so far suggests it can come anywhere close to David O. Russell's last movie The Fighter ($93.6 million).
It's also worth noting that November's strong box office performance was almost entirely due to November releases, as late October openers like Cloud Atlas ($13.8 million in November), Paranormal Activity 4 ($9 million) and Silent Hill: Revelation ($7.4 million) disappeared from theaters quickly.
The worst December in the last decade was 2008 with $797 million; if December 2012 matches that figure, then 2012 on the whole will out-gross current record-holder 2009 ($10.596 billion). With strong November holdovers like Breaking Dawn Part 2 and Skyfall and guaranteed blockbuster The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey on the horizon, it's likely that 2012 winds up at over $10.7 billion.